Kentucky Speedway Gets New Owner

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - Kentucky Speedway moved a step closer to
landing a coveted Sprint Cup Series race when Speedway Motorsports
Inc. on Thursday added the track to its growing portfolio of tracks.
Just how SMI owner Bruton Smith gets that race date remains unclear, but he said he wants a Cup race in Kentucky in 2009.
Smith has battled for years with NASCAR over the awarding of Cup
races, and Kentucky already has unsuccessfully sued to get its own
Track officials filed an antitrust lawsuit in 2005 against NASCAR and Smith rival International Speedway Inc., but it was dismissed in January. It's now on appeal in U.S. District Court.
There was immediate speculation Smith has his eye on Pocono
Raceway, which currently has two Cup races. If he purchased that
track, he could move one or both its dates to any of his eight tracks.
"I'm always interested in speedways," Smith said. "But I don't know if it's for sale. If you tell me it's for sale, I'll make a call tomorrow."
NASCAR already has started lining up the 2009 calendar, and
spokesman Ramsey Poston said "it's getting fairly late in the year" to open talks with a new speedway. Pocono is independently owned by Joseph and Rose Mattioli.
"I wouldn't speculate on them having a date or not having a date," Poston said. "It's certainly been a very good track; it's been part of NASCAR's history and heritage. It certainly has served that region of the country very well."
Mattioli was not immediately available for comment.
One way or another, it's clear Smith will find a Cup date to give to Kentucky. The track, about halfway between Cincinnati and Louisville in northern Kentucky, regularly hosts NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series, Indy Racing League and ARCA events, but has lobbied unsuccessfully since it opened in 2000 to bring a Cup event to the 1.5-mile oval.
Track ownership sued, alleging NASCAR and ISC worked together to create an unfair monopoly and prevent Kentucky from securing a Cup
General manager Mark Cassis told The Associated Press last year
the speedway always intended to host a Cup race regardless of the
outcome of the lawsuit.
"For us to say that we're going to continue operating without a Cup race is not in our plans," he said. "That's what this track was built for, and we're not going to take our eyes off it."
Smith said he's not a part of the lawsuit, which is currently on appeal, and former track owner Jerry Carroll said the suit will continue. Carroll accepted a position to stay with the speedway after the sale.
"The litigation will continue on as long as we think that there is an opportunity to do something right, get an even playing field," Carroll said.
With crowds of more than 70,000, the track is currently the largest venue that hosts a Nationwide event but doesn't have a Cup race. Smith said he immediately plans to add 50,000 more seats to make it more suitable for a Cup race.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by Race Fan Location: Winchester on May 23, 2008 at 08:46 AM
    It's about time we get a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race in Kentucky. My family used to travel to Florida every year in July for the 400 in Daytona..Since they built their so-called "Fan Zone", you are limited to only 40 percent of what you used to be able to do with pre-race infield passes, and seats that used to be affordable but really good (view of whole track) now have turn 3 blocked. By the time you paid $1000 for tickets to the Nationwide, Cup, and pre race, and your hotel ($200 per night), and your gas, it's not worth it for what you get anymore. I pray Mr. Smith gets us a Sprint Cup Race.My family will certainly be annual season ticket holders, and by doing so, keeping Kentucky's dollars spent here in KY!! Plus, I'd be able to enjoy the events more without the exhaustion of driving 14 hrs, & at half the cost. This is the best news ever..just hope he gets it done so we don't all get our hopes up for nothing.I will be watching this news, to see how it plays out!! Welcome NASCAR
  • by Zatoichi Location: Richmond on May 23, 2008 at 02:40 AM
    I wonder how much fuel will be burned by 25.000 vehicles loaded with NASCAR afficiandos? People Michelle Obama wants a piece of your pie so please give a ride to any Speedway race to those less fortunate.
  • by Warning ya Location: Charlotte, NC on May 22, 2008 at 01:16 PM
    Bruton Smith is the worst. you do NOT want to have to deal with this guy!! You've been warned...
  • by DC Location: Hazard on May 22, 2008 at 12:21 PM
    You can almost rest assured that after Mr Bruton Smith, and his buddies in the France family get this track that NASCAR will be coming to town. They enjoy one of the biggest monopolies in the world, kinda like big oil. That's why some of the rulings are so controversial, and the price of tickets is now more than "Joe Six Pack" can afford. Get your billfolds out, and be willing to pay up.
  • by tv on May 22, 2008 at 12:09 PM
    Not true. The Nascar Nationwide and Craftsman Truck series run every year at the Kentucky Speedway. The Sprint Cup series has yet to run though.
  • by Oh yeah!!! Location: about time on May 22, 2008 at 08:56 AM
    I hope and pray that the deal goes thru this time. Talk about revenue for Ky. Nascar was just reporting that billions are earned at each race throughout the season. Kasey Kane, Dale Jr.,Tony Stewart....hope to see you all there doing left turns!!!!!!!!!!


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